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Internet blackout helping Waino excel in spring

Veteran, who lowered his ERA to 0.84 Wednesday, abstaining from social media
MLB.com @JoeTrezz

JUPTER, Fla. -- Whatever this story says, good or bad, Adam Wainwright won't read it. The 36-year-old righty elevated a desire to avoid "distractions" to the top of his lengthy priority list this spring, in which he's hoping to prove that he's poised to bounce back from a career-worst season.

As for the chatter about whether he will or won't rebound, "I'm completely blocking it out," Wainwright said Wednesday, after throwing five strong innings in St. Louis' 3-1 win over the Astros. "My wife gets on me any time she sees me looking at anything."

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JUPTER, Fla. -- Whatever this story says, good or bad, Adam Wainwright won't read it. The 36-year-old righty elevated a desire to avoid "distractions" to the top of his lengthy priority list this spring, in which he's hoping to prove that he's poised to bounce back from a career-worst season.

As for the chatter about whether he will or won't rebound, "I'm completely blocking it out," Wainwright said Wednesday, after throwing five strong innings in St. Louis' 3-1 win over the Astros. "My wife gets on me any time she sees me looking at anything."

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He's not exaggerating. Wainwright said he's less than a week into a three-week fast of the Internet, over which he'll abstain from social media almost completely.

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"There is so much I have to do in the clubhouse as it is, I don't have to be walking with my head down in my phone all the time," Wainwright said. "There is work to be done and there are distractions out there. I don't need to know what everybody thinks. I just have to know what I need to do to get better."

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There are a few exceptions. Wainwright can log onto Twitter to promote his charity efforts, which are currently focused on providing clean water to impoverished areas abroad. He can post videos of his continued scare-off challenge with Matt Carpenter. He can open his Bible app, and he can check the weather. The little things are important, and for everything else, Wainwright will keep his phone in his pocket and his eyes on his goals.

"Every time I get lost hunting somewhere I think, 'Why do I carry this phone around so much?'" Wainwright said.

Wainwright hasn't had trouble navigating from the mound without his GPS this spring. His starts keep getting better. Experiments with pitch sequencing and arm angles are proceeding to his liking. On Wednesday, his four-seam fastball reached a spring high of 92 mph as he out-pitched Justin Verlander for five innings and lowered his Grapefruit League ERA to 0.84.

Tweet from @Cardinals: .@UncleCharlie50's afternoon:5 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 SO#CardsSpringTraining ������🌴 pic.twitter.com/OS3w5nI0rD

"I know it's part of our culture, we get that. But there are times you start feeling a little overwhelmed, and feel some anxiety," said Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, who challenged his entire team to "unplug" during a recent off-day. "We get into the routine of following everything. Often, they are very positive things. But you can also subject yourself to some of the negative things as well.

"The whole world has a voice, and it can get out real fast. The more time you spend with some of those voices, the more you're setting yourself up for some peaks and some serious valleys. If you think that can make you better, go for it. But I think time has proven, for most of it, that isn't a good recipe for consistency in this game."

Carpenter crushes in return to field
Wednesday was supposed to be all about the field for Matt Carpenter, who tested his back for the first time defensively at first base. Carpenter played well, at one point making a nice scoop to field a low throw from Adam Wainwright and complete an out.

But he made a louder impact with his bat.

Carpenter went 2-for-2 in his only two plate appearances, singling on a line drive up the middle in the first and then hitting a two-run homer in the third. Both hits came off Verlander. Carpenter, who walked twice in his Grapefruit League debut Tuesday, is now hitting 1.000 with a 3.500 OPS in a very limited spring sample.

Video: Outlook: Carpenter has solid pop, is on-base machine

The 32-year-old spoke candidly this week about his goals as a hitter for 2018, as well as his disappointment over his '17 season. In a somewhat futile search for power, Carpenter's batting average dipped to a career-low .241 last season. Meanwhile, he hit 23 home runs, just two more than his '17 total. A career-high 109 walks gave Carpenter a puzzling .241/.384/.451 slash line that he's vowed to improve.

"That's not who I am," Carpenter said. "I am not a .240 hitter."

Injury update
Matheny said closer Luke Gregerson's game of catch Tuesday went well, and the right-hander would likely work toward throwing a bullpen session in the coming days. Matheny said Gregerson, who has missed 10 days with an oblique sprain, could appear in Grapefruit League games as early as next week.

Up next
Jack Flaherty, St. Louis' No. 2 prospect per MLB Pipeline, will try to translate back-field work into on-field results when the right-hander starts Thursday against the Orioles. Righty Kevin Gausman throws for Baltimore. First pitch is slated for 12:05 p.m. CT from Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium. Listen to the game on Gameday Audio.

Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joetrezz.

St. Louis Cardinals, Adam Wainwright